Job 40


Job humbles himself before the Lord, 1-5.

And God again challenges him by a display of his power and

judgments, 6-14.

A description of behemoth, 15-24.


Verse 1. Moreover the Lord answered] That is, the Lord continued

his discourse with Job. Answered does not refer to any thing said

by Job, or any question asked.

I think it very likely that this whole piece, from the beginning

of this first verse to the end of the fourteenth, was originally

the ending of the poem. Mr. Heath has noticed this, and I shall

lay his words before the reader: "The former part of this chapter

is evidently the conclusion of the poem; the latter part whereof

seems to be in great disorder; whether it has happened from the

carelessness of the transcriber, or, which appears most probable,

from the skins of parchment composing the roll having by some

accident changed their places. It is plain from the seventh verse

of the forty-second chapter Job 42:7 that Jehovah is the

last speaker in the poem. If, then, immediately after the end of

the thirty-ninth chapter, we subjoin the fifteenth verse of the

forty-second chapter, and place the fourteen first verses of the

fortieth chapter immediately after the sixth verse of the

forty-second chapter, and by that means make them the conclusion

of the poem, all will be right; and this seventh verse of the

forty-second chapter will be in its natural order. The action

will be complete by the judgment of the Almighty; and the

catastrophe of the poem will be grand and solemn." To these

reasons of Mr. Heath, Dr. Kennicott has added others, which the

reader may find at the end of the chapter. Job 40:24 Without

taking any farther notice of the transposition in this place, I

will continue the notes in the present order of the verses.

Verse 2. He that reproveth God, let him answer it.] Let the man

who has made so free with God and his government, answer to what

he has now heard.

Verse 4. Behold, I am vile] I acknowledge my inward defilement.

I cannot answer thee.

I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.] I cannot excuse myself, and

I must be dumb before thee.

Verse 5. Once have I spoken] See on Job 42:3, &c.

I will proceed no farther.] I shall attempt to justify myself no

longer; I have spoken repeatedly; and am confounded at my want of

respect for my Maker, and at the high thoughts which I have

entertained of my own righteousness. All is impurity in the

presence of thy Majesty.

Verse 7. Gird up thy loins] See Job 38:1-3. Some think that

this and the preceding verse have been repeated here from

Job 38:1-3, and that several of the words

there, here, and Job 42:3, have been repeated, in after times,

to connect some false gatherings of the sheets of parchment, on

which the end of this poem was originally written. See on

Job 40:1, and at the end of the chapter. See Clarke on Job 40:24.

Verse 8. Wilt thou condemn me] Rather than submit to be thought

in the wrong, wilt thou condemn MY conduct, in order to justify

thyself? Some men will never acknowledge themselves in the

wrong. "God may err, but we cannot," seems to be their impious

maxim. Unwillingness to acknowledge a fault frequently leads men,

directly or indirectly, to this sort of blasphemy. There are three

words most difficult to be pronounced in all languages,-I AM


Verse 9. Hast thou an arm like God?] Every word, from this to

the end of Job 40:14, has a wonderful tendency to humble the

soul; and it is no wonder that at the conclusion of these sayings

Job fell in the dust confounded, and ascribed righteousness to his


Verse 10. Deck thyself now with majesty] Act like God, seeing

thou hast been assuming to thyself perfections that belong to him


Verse 13. Hide them in the dust together] Blend the high and the

low, the rich and the poor, in one common ruin. Show them that

thou art supreme, and canst do whatsoever thou pleasest.

Bind their faces in secret.] This seems to refer to the custom

of preserving mummies: the whole body is wrapped round with strong

swathings of linen or cotton cloth. Not only the limbs, but the

very head, face, and all, are rolled round with strong filleting,

so that not one feature can be seen, not even the protuberance of

the nose. On the outside of these involutions a human face is

ordinarily painted; but as to the real face itself, it is

emphatically bound in secret, for those rollers are never intended

to be removed.

Verse 14. Thine own right hand can save thee.] It is the

prerogative of God alone to save the human soul. Nothing less than

unlimited power, exerted under the direction and impulse of

unbounded mercy, can save a sinner. This is most clearly asserted

in this speech of Jehovah: When thou canst extend an arm like God,

i.e., an uncontrollable power-when thou canst arm thyself with the

lightning of heaven, and thunder with a voice like God-when thou

canst deck thyself with the ineffable glory, beauty, and splendour

of the supreme majesty of Jehovah-when thou canst dispense thy

judgments over all the earth, to abase the proud, and tread down

the wicked-when thou canst as having the keys of hell and death,

blend the high and the low in the dust together; then I will

acknowledge to thee that thy own right hand can save thee. In

other words: Salvation belongeth unto the Lord; no man can save

his own soul by works of righteousness which he has done, is

doing, or can possibly do, to all eternity. Without Jesus every

human spirit must have perished everlastingly. Glory be to God for

his unspeakable gift!

Verse 15. Behold now behemoth] The word behemoth is the

plural of behemah, which signifies cattle in general, or

graminivorous animals, as distinguished from chayetho, all

wild or carnivorous animals. See Ge 1:24. The former seems to

mean kine, horses, asses, sheep, &c., and all employed in domestic

or agricultural matters; the latter, all wild and savage beasts,

such as lions, bears, tigers, &c.: but the words are not always

taken in these senses.

In this place it has been supposed to mean some animal of the

beeve kind. The Vulgate retains the Hebrew name; so do the

Syriac and Arabic. The Chaldee is indefinite, translating

creature or animal. And the Septuagint is not more explicit,

translating by θηρια, beasts or wild beasts; and old Coverdale,

the cruell beaste, perhaps as near to the truth as any of them.

From the name, therefore, or the understanding had of it by the

ancient versions, we can derive no assistance relative to the

individuality of the animal in question; and can only hope to find

what it is by the characteristics it bears in the description here

given of it.

These, having been carefully considered and deeply investigated

both by critics and naturalists, have led to the conclusion that

either the elephant, or the hippopotamus or river-horse, is the

animal in question; and on comparing the characteristics between

these two, the balance is considerably in favour of the

hippopotamus. But even here there are still some difficulties,

as there are some parts of the description which do not well suit

even the hippopotamus; and therefore I have my doubts whether

either of the animals above is that in question, or whether any

animal now in existence be that described by the Almighty.

Mr. Good supposes, and I am of the same opinion, that the animal

here described is now extinct. The skeletons of three lost genera

have actually been found out: these have been termed

palaeotherium, anoplotherium, and mastodon or mammoth. From an

actual examination of a part of the skeleton of what is termed the

mammoth, I have described it in my note, See Clarke on Ge 1:24.

As I do not believe that either the elephant or the river-horse

is intended here, I shall not take up the reader's time with any

detailed description. The elephant is well known; and, though not

an inhabitant of these countries, has been so often imported in a

tame state, and so frequently occurs in exhibitions of wild

beasts, that multitudes, even of the common people, have seen this

tremendous, docile, and sagacious animal. Of the hippopotamus or

river-horse, little is generally known but by description, as

the habits of this animal will not permit him to be tamed. His

amphibious nature prevents his becoming a constant resident on dry


The hippopotamus inhabits the rivers of Africa and the lakes of

Ethiopia: feeds generally by night; wanders only a few miles

from water; feeds on vegetables and roots of trees, but never on

fish; lays waste whole plantations of the sugar-cane, rice, and

other grain. When irritated or wounded, it will attack boats and

men with much fury. It moves slowly and heavily: swims

dexterously; walks deliberately and leisurely over head into the

water; and pursues his way, even on all fours, on the bottom; but

cannot remain long under the water without rising to take in air.

It sleeps in reedy places; has a tremendous voice, between the

lowing of an ox and the roaring of the elephant. Its head is

large; its mouth, very wide; its skin, thick and almost devoid of

hair; and its tail, naked and about a foot long. It is nearly as

large as the elephant, and some have been found seventeen feet

long. Mr. Good observes: "Both the elephant and hippopotamus are

naturally quiet animals; and never interfere with the grazing of

others of different kinds unless they be irritated. The behemoth,

on the contrary, is represented as a quadruped of a ferocious

nature, and formed for tyranny, if not rapacity; equally lord of

the floods and of the mountains; rushing with rapidity of foot,

instead of slowness or stateliness; and possessing a rigid and

enormous tail, like a cedar tree, instead of a short naked tail of

about a foot long, as the hippopotamus; or a weak, slender,

hog-shaped tail, as the elephant."

The mammoth, for size, will answer the description in this

place, especially Job 40:19:

He is the chief of the ways of God. That to which the part of a

skeleton belonged which I examined, must have been, by

computation, not less than twenty-five feet high, and sixty feet

in length! The bones of one toe I measured, and found them three

feet in length! One of the very smallest grinders of an animal of

this extinct species, full of processes on the surface more than

an inch in depth, which shows that the animal had lived on flesh,

I have just now weighed, and found it, in its very dry state, four

pounds eight ounces, avoirdupois: the same grinder of an elephant

I have weighed also, and found it just two pounds. The mammoth,

therefore, from this proportion, must have been as large as two

elephants and a quarter. We may judge by this of its size:

elephants are frequently ten and eleven feet high; this will

make the mammoth at least twenty-five or twenty-six feet high; and

as it appears to have been a many-toed animal, the springs which

such a creature could make must have been almost incredible:

nothing by swiftness could have escaped its pursuit. God seems to

have made it as the proof of his power; and had it been prolific,

and not become extinct, it would have depopulated the earth.

Creatures of this kind must have been living in the days of Job;

the behemoth is referred to here, as if perfectly and commonly


He eateth grass as an ox.] This seems to be mentioned as

something remarkable in this animal: that though from the form of

his teeth he must have been carnivorous, yet he ate grass as an

ox; he lived both on animal and vegetable food.

Verse 16. His strength is in his loins] This refers to his great

agility, notwithstanding his bulk; by the strength of his loins

he was able to take vast springs, and make astonishing bounds.

Verse 17. He moveth his tail like a cedar] Therefore it was

neither the elephant, who has a tail like that of the hog, nor

the hippopotamus, whose tail is only about a foot long.

The sinews of his stones] I translate with Mr. Good, and for the

same reasons, the sinews of his haunches, which is still more

characteristic; as the animal must have excelled in leaping.

Verse 18. His bones are as strong pieces of brass-bars of iron.]

The tusk I have mentioned above is uncommonly hard, solid, and

weighty for its size.

Verse 19. He is the chief of the ways of God] The largest,

strongest, and swiftest quadruped that God has formed.

He that made him] No power of man or beast can overcome him.

God alone can overcome him, and God alone could make his sword (of

extinction) approach to him.

Verse 20. The mountains bring him forth food] It cannot

therefore be the hippopotamus, as he is seldom found far from the

rivers where he has his chief residence.

Where all the beasts of the field play.] He frequents those

places where he can have most prey. He makes a mock of all the

beasts of the field. They can neither resist his power, nor escape

from his agility. All this answers to what we know of the mammoth,

but not at all to the hippopotamus.

Verse 21. He lieth under the shady trees] This and the following

verses refer to certain habits of the behemoth, with which we are

and must be unacquainted,

Verse 22. The willows of the brook compass him] This would agree

well enough with the hippopotamus.

Verse 23. Behold, he drinketh up a river] A similar mode of

expression, and of precisely the same meaning, as that in

Job 39:24: "He swalloweth the ground with fierceness." No river

can stop his course: he wades through all; stems every tide and

torrent; and hurries not as though he were in danger.

He trusteth that he can draw up Jordan] Even when the river

overflows its banks, it is no stoppage to him: though the whole

impetuosity of its stream rush against his mouth, he is not

afraid. Mr. Good has seized the true idea in his translation of

this verse:-

"If the stream rage, he revileth not:

He is unmoved, though Jordan rush against his mouth."

From this mention of Jordan it is probable that the behemoth was

once an inhabitant of the mountains, marshes, and woods, of the

land of Palestine.

Verse 24. He taketh it with his eyes] He looks at the sweeping

tide, and defies it.

His nose pierceth through snares.] If fences of strong stakes

be made in order to restrain him, or prevent him from passing

certain boundaries, he tears them in pieces with his teeth; or, by

pressing his nose against them, breaks them off. If other parts of

the description would answer, this might well apply to the

elephant, the nose here meaning the proboscis, with which he can

split trees, or even tear them up from the roots!

Thus ends the description of the behemoth; what I suppose to be

the mastodon or mammoth, or some creature of this kind, that God

made as the chief of his works, exhibited in various countries for

a time, cut them off from the earth, but by his providence

preserved many of their skeletons, that succeeding ages might

behold the mighty power which produced this chief of the ways of

God, and admire the providence that rendered that race extinct

which would otherwise, in all probability, have extinguished every

other race of animals!

I am not unapprized of the strong arguments produced by learned

men to prove, on the one hand, that behemoth is the elephant; and,

on the other, that he is the hippopotamus or river-horse, and I

have carefully read all that Bochart, that chief of learned men,

has said on the subject. But I am convinced that an animal now

extinct, probably of the kind already mentioned, is the creature

pointed out and described by the inspiration of God in this


ON Job 40:1 of this chapter we have seen, from Mr.

Heath's remarks, that the fourteen first verses were probably

transposed. In the following observations Dr. Kennicott appears to

prove the point.

"It will be here objected, that the poem could not possibly end

with this question from Job; and, among other reasons, for this in

particular; because we read in the very next verse, That after the

Lord had spoken these words unto Job, &c. If, therefore, the last

speaker was not Job, but the Lord, Job could not originally have

concluded this poem, as he does at present.

"This objection I hold to be exceedingly important; and, indeed,

to prove decisively that the poem must have ended at first with

some speech from God.

"And this remark leads directly to a very interesting inquiry:

What was at first the conclusion of this poem? This may, I

presume, be pointed out and determined, not by the alteration of

any one word, but only by allowing a dislocation of the fourteen

verses which now begin the fortieth chapter. Chapters xxxviii.,

xxxix., xl., and xli., contain a magnificent display of the Divine

power and wisdom in the works of the Creator; specifying the lion,

raven, wild goat, wild ass, unicorn, peacock, ostrich, horse,

hawk, eagle, behemoth, and leviathan.

"Now, it must have surprised most readers to find that the

description of these creatures is strangely interrupted at

Job 40:1, and as strangely

resumed afterwards at Job 40:15; and therefore, if these

fourteen verses will connect with and regularly follow what now

ends the poem, we cannot much doubt that these fourteen verses

have again found their true station, and should be restored to it.

"The greatness of the supposed transposition is no objection:

because so many verses as would fill one piece of vellum in an

ancient roll, might be easily sewed in before or after its proper

place. In the case before us, the twenty-five lines in the first

fourteen verses of chapter xl. seem to have been sewed in

improperly after Job 39:30, instead of after Job 42:6. That such

large parts have been transposed in rolls to make which the parts

are sewed together is absolutely certain; and that this has been

the case here, is still more probable for the following reason:-

"The lines here supposed to be out of place are twenty-five, and

contain ninety-two words; which might be written on one piece or

page of vellum. But the MS. in which these twenty-five lines

made one page, must be supposed to have the same, or nearly the

same, number of lines in each of the pages adjoining. And it would

greatly strengthen this presumption if these twenty-five lines

would fall in regularly at the end of any other set of lines,

nearly of the same number; if they would fall in after the next

set of twenty-five, or the second set, or the third, or the

fourth, &c. Now, this is actually the case here; for the lines

after these twenty-five, being one hundred or one hundred and one,

make just four times twenty-five. And, therefore, if we consider

these one hundred and twenty-five lines as written on five equal

pieces of vellum, it follows that the fifth piece might be

carelessly sewed up before the other four.

"Let us also observe that present disorder of the speeches,

which is this. In chapters xxxviii. and xxxix., God first speaks

to Job. The end of chap. xxxix. is followed by, 'And the Lord

answered Job and said,' whilst yet Job had not replied. At

Job 40:3-5, Job answers; but he says,

he had then spoken TWICE, and he would add no more; whereas,

this was his first reply, and he speaks afterwards. From

Job 40:15-41:34 are now the descriptions of behemoth and

leviathan, which would regularly follow the descriptions of the

horse, hawk, and eagle. And from Job 42:1-6 is now

Job's speech, after which we read in Job 42:7, 'After the Lord

had spoken these words unto Job!'

"Now, all these confusions are removed at once if we only allow

that a piece of vellum containing the twenty-five lines,

(Job 40:1-14,) originally followed Job 42:6. For then, after

God's first speech, ending with leviathan, Job replies: then God,

to whom Job replies the second time, when he added no more; and

then God addresses him the third, when Job is silent, and the poem

concludes: upon which the narrative opens regularly, with saying,

'After the Lord had spoken these words unto Job,' &c.

Job 42:7."

-Kennicott's Remarks, p. 161.

The reader will find much more satisfaction if he read the

places as above directed. Having ended chap. xxix., proceed

immediately to Job 40:15; go on regularly to the end of

Job 42:6, and immediately after that add Job 40:1-14. We

shall find then that the poem has a consistent and proper ending,

and that the concluding speech was spoken by JEHOVAH.

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